Review, Smartwatch, Wearable

Garmin Vivomove Style Quick Review: A Smartwatch in Disguise

Garmin isn’t exactly a brand name that comes to mind when we think of mainstream smartwatches. Mostly known for its range of high-end, rugged wearables, I was quite excited when Garmin unveiled the latest iterations of the company’s Vivomove hybrid smartwatches.

After spending a few weeks with the Garmin Vivomove Style, I’m genuinely impressed by it. Not only does it have very respectable battery life, it is also both sleek and functional. If you’re looking for a solid, stylish smartwatch, you should really consider it.

What It Is

There are a number of smartwatches under the Vivomove series, and the Style is the more premium offering. It features a 42mm watchface with a hidden 240 x 240 AMOLED screen protected by a domed Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a 20mm silicone or nylon strap, 5 ATM water resistance rating, and an anodised aluminium casing.

What makes the VivoMove Style particularly interesting is its quoted battery life. In smartwatch mode, it can deliver up to five days of use, which is reasonably good given the feature set of this wearable. On top of that, it will still work as a regular wristwatch up to an additional week after the battery’s drained.

Speaking of which, the Vivomove Style looks just like a regular wristwatch, which is great for those that don’t want a smartwatch that looks too much like a…well, smartwatch. Whenever you receive a notification, the minute and hour hands will sweep aside and display said notification under the watchface. It’s oddly satisfying to see the sweeping motion of the hands.

The Good Stuff

Garmin’s range of wearables don’t usually look particularly handsome, but the Vivomove Style is easily the company’s sleekest-looking smartwatch yet. I absolutely love the traditional wristwatch look: it’s understated, it doesn’t look out of place in the gym or in the office, and most of all, it still retains many smartwatch-like features.

This is thanks to the hidden AMOLED screen underneath the watchface, which only switches on when necessary. It’s not the brightest panel – it’s quite hard to see under bright sunlight – but it is still very usable. Notifications are also easy to read on the screen, so I can just take a quick glance at the watch before taking my phone out (if it was an important message).

Besides that, notifications are pushed to the Vivomove Style from my paired phone quite seamlessly without delay. I can even read through some of the notifications like emails, but there are some shortcomings here and there. I’ll get back to this further down this review.

And then there’s the battery life of the Vivomove Style. Much to my surprise, I can actually get five days of use out of this smartwatch comfortably, which is in line with Garmin’s claim. It’s worth noting that I wore the watch almost all the time throughout the five days, even when I’m asleep to test out the sleep tracking feature. I can’t say for sure if it can last for another week in watch mode, but I do love the fact that it still retains the timekeeping feature after the battery’s drained.

So how well does the Vivomove Style track sleep? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s awfully accurate or insightful, but it is fun to use. It can detect when I fall asleep and get out of bed relatively accurately, though the accompanying Garmin Connect app shows that I spend barely an hour in deep sleep. It’s an interesting feature, but I do question the accuracy of the tracking.

What about workout tracking? In this regard, the Vivomove Style does a good job. It can track quite a number of workouts, and during the workout itself, the watch hands will show my heart rate and what HR zone I’m in. At the end of the workout, it will also display how long the workout was, my average heart rate, and distance traveled for certain activities.

All in all, the Vivomove Style is not a super sophisticated fitness tracker, but it will serve regular, everyday consumers (myself included) well enough for workout tracking purposes.

The Bad Stuff

One of the biggest shortcomings of the Vivomove Style is its notification system. While notifications are pushed to the watch seamlessly, the watch has issues with certain apps. I use Telegram regularly, but the Style simply refuses to show any notifications from the messaging app. To me, this issue alone defeats the purpose of having a smartwatch.

Besides that, some notifications don’t show up particularly well on the Vivomove Style, especially emails. Messages are split between the top and bottom area of the watchface, and the layout is simply…not flattering. It’s difficult to navigate around too, which requires swiping to the left and right to read the rest of the message.

It would’ve been more seamless to do that if the Vivomove Style can recognise my inputs better. Not only does it have trouble recognising swiping gestures, double tapping on the screen to wake the watch doesn’t work consistently either. It’s not a huge issue, but it can get annoying. Understandably, this is not a traditional touchscreen, so it would be unrealistic to expect the same level of responsiveness.

Last but certainly not least is the cost of the Vivomove Style itself. Retailing at RM1,499 for this Silver model with Moss Green strap, it’s quite a costly smartwatch. At this price point, it has a number of other more affordable alternatives, including the equally sleek Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. It’s not a hybrid smartwatch, but Samsung’s wearable does offer a better notification system and superior feature set, though it cannot match the Style’s battery life.

Is It Worth It?

That depends on whether or not you’re willing to fork out a premium for the Garmin Vivomove Style’s design. RM1,499 is not an affordable price point – the price even goes up to RM1,750 if you want the Graphite and Light Gold options with nylon straps instead – and while there’s the more affordable Vivomove 3 with a similar design and monochrome display, it’s still quite costly at RM1,250.

But if the looks of the Vivomove Style appeal to you, it may be worth the premium asking price. For what it’s worth, I’ve received a lot more compliment with the Style on my wrist than I ever got with other smartwatches. It may not be a very feature-rich wearable, but it sure is a handsome, stylish hybrid smartwatch.